Ben Farmer Work Ideas About

Arboretum

Arboretum is an editorial project I worked on in 2019. A limited-run hardback book, it takes seventeen unique, ancient trees from around the world and weaves together their ecological, mythological and historical narratives. I pitched the concept and led the creative direction of the book.

Creative Direction
Editing
Illustration
Production
Project Management
Writing

Context

Arboretum is the outcome of a collaborative project sprint that took place in 2019. It was produced over the course of 8 weeks and to a budget of £180 by a team of five people, led and managed by me.

Concept

Arboretum brings together the legends, narratives and discourses that surround the trees contained within it. It explores the many ways they are deeply rooted in our cultures, what each tree means as a memory, metaphor and historical record, and how our comprehension of the world is deeply indebted to them.

We wanted to steer clear of creating a fact-file, and instead found creative ways to tell concise and engaging stories about the trees through a mix of illustration, infographics, writing and photography. We took inspiration from examples as diverse a Borges' 'Book of Imaginary Beings' and 'Beautiful Cows'.

Execution

We built an initial database of old, large and unique trees, fleshing it out with details such as assosciated legends and myths, symbolic or cultural significancies and any dialogues with ecological research. From this, we grouped the trees by theme and planned out a series of infographics that would explore different aspects of how trees shape our comprehension of our world.

The illustration style is intended to communicate these trees as impressions - quick field sketches - veiling them in a layer of fiction when an image is only a quick Google search away.

Outcome

The initial run of 12 books has proven that the book's concept resonates. A mixture of presenting the book in bookshops and displaying the project online has generated enough interest to justify another print run. I am planning to do this through Kickstarter, to experiment with crowdfunded publishing models.